Last night at dinner, I told the kids about a blog post I’d read concerning the holidays; a woman had written an open letter to her husband talking about all of the things that she does to make their holidays enjoyable. And to me, it sounds kind of normal; budgeting and planning, researching and shopping for gifts, planning meals, baking, wrapping, making time to go see Christmas lights, etc. It’s exhausting, both mentally and physically.
It got me thinking.
What Christmas traditions do we have that don’t make that much of a difference to the kids?
Growing up, my family didn’t celebrate holidays, so I don’t have memories connected to Christmas or New Years. As a family, we’ve built our own, and they’ve changed over the years; The first year that George and I were dating, we bought a live Christmas tree from the YMCA lot in Lakewood, brought it home, drank wine, and he shared the stories of his ornaments as we decorated the tree together. He bought me my very first ornament that year; a handmade metal and glass angel from a local artist. She still holds pride of place on the tree every year.
Now, we pull out the artificial tree, Lefty helps me put it together, Ethan and Stella help straighten out the branches. I take out the ornaments, one by one, telling the stories behind each of them. There’s usually some arguing and moving of ornaments and Christmas cookie consumption, and then we watch a movie together. Another tradition we have is that George spends all day on Christmas Eve baking the cookies I’ve made while I wrap presents and watch Christmas movies. We also try to drive around at least once to see the Christmas light displays in our city.
So at dinner, we talked about our family traditions; what they like, what they don’t care about, and what they’d like to do in future. Surprisingly, there wasn’t much that they don’t like (“Cleaning. I don’t think we should clean as much as we do.” — Ethan), but the things that they enjoy surprised me a little.
“I like going to Aunt Mary’s for Christmas Eve” — Ethan
“I like Christmas dinner” — Lefty
“I like watching movies and putting the ornaments on the tree.” — Stella
“I wish I had more help baking the cookies, like each one of you would help do one kind of cookie.” — George
“I wish we put more icing on the cookies, and that we made more of them.” — Lefty
“I like watching you open the presents that you pick out for each other.” — Me
In this time of craziness, of baking and listmaking, it made me happy to see that the little things don’t go unappreciated. It’s also nice that if we need to change things up, or reorient the plan (my personal kryptonite) or just plain let something go and not do it at all, It’s OK. Yeah, we might miss goofing around with the Elf Microphone, or driving around looking at lights, or wish we had the sweet bread that takes me 5 1/2 hours to make, but you know what? We’re good. We can always do it next year.